1. Mr Chairman, I will first provide an update on the progress of our Active Mobility or AM landscape, before elaborating on our efforts to promote inclusive journeys and a sharing culture.Back
Good progress in our Active Mobility (AM) landscape over the years
2. Over the past few years, the AM landscape has evolved significantly with more people taking up active modes of transport, such as walking and cycling. This is a good thing, as AM is the greenest, cheapest and healthiest mode of transport available.
3. Mr Dennis Tan asked how we intend to curb the illegal use of PMDs. First, we have implemented various regulations. E-scooters have been required to be registered since 2019 and inspected every two years since 2020. In 2021, we also introduced import controls to stem the inflow of non-compliant motorised devices. E-scooter and power-assisted bicycle users, or PAB users, are required to pass the mandatory theory test before they can ride their devices in public spaces. As of end-2022, we have 39,000 passes, which is an increase of 8,000 from the previous year, and accounts for almost 93% of the existing registered device population.
4. Second, through active enforcement. Our AM Enforcement Officers are deployed daily to ensure that our paths remain safe, and to take action against errant riders. LTA also leverages technology such as mobile CCTV cameras to augment its enforcement efforts and conducts joint operations with other agencies.
5. With that, I am glad to say that we have made good progress in improving AM safety over the years. The number of AM-related accidents on public paths and fire incidents have dropped significantly, each by more than 30 per cent since 2021. The number of accidents on paths fell from 155 to 101 while the number of fires involving motorised AM devices fell from 63 in 2021 to 42 in 2022.
Sustaining Progress and Working with Communities to Keep Our Paths Safe
6. We need to sustain this good progress. We will continue to work closely with our partners and communities to do so, such as our AM Community Ambassadors. Since our call for volunteers last November, a few cycling interest groups, such as BPR Cycling Club and RIDERS Arena, have registered their interest with us. LTA has started to onboard these volunteers last month, and I look forward to the contributions from all our ambassadors. Moving forward, we will work closely with new and existing AM Community Ambassador teams to expand outreach activities. For those who are interested to join us, you can indicate your interest through LTA’s website.
Inculcating Inclusivity through Active Mobility
7. As the AM landscape continues to grow rapidly, we are monitoring new trends closely. Together with the Active Mobility Advisory Panel, or AMAP, we are strengthening our regulatory framework while building a more inclusive culture.
8. The AMAP comprises a diverse mix of representatives of different stakeholder groups, such as seniors, youths, persons with disabilities, cyclists and motorists. This allows us to consider various perspectives to ensure that our rules remain relevant and effective.
9. As Mr Eric Chua mentioned, AMAP recently reviewed the use of cargo bikes, trikes, rider-only tricycles, and recumbents; these are gaining popularity overseas. While these devices are still used in small numbers locally, it is timely for our regulations to be reviewed to ensure that the rules of usage are clear and that they can be used safely in Singapore. The Panel engaged a wide range of stakeholders and has provided a set of balanced recommendations.
10. As earlier mentioned by Minister Iswaran, the Government has accepted AMAP’s recommendations. In our evaluation, we have aimed to balance between facilitating the use of more devices while ensuring the safety of all path and road users. Non-motorised devices will be subject to the existing device criteria when used on paths, including weight and width limits. Motorised versions of these devices will continue to be disallowed on paths and roads until recognised safety standards are available.
11. In consultation with MHA and the Traffic Police, we will also be introducing new limits for all AM devices used on roads. This is to address concerns that overly wide or long devices are less manoeuvrable and may pose safety risks. We will introduce a width limit of 1.3m and length limit of 2.6m on all AM devices used on roads. These limits are pegged to the largest AM devices being used in Singapore today – 1.3m is about the width limit of a trishaw, while 2.6m is the length of a two-seater tandem bicycle. We hope to continue facilitating such devices that have been used on roads in Singapore for a long time with no major safety issues, while preventing proliferation of overly large devices.
12. We will raise public awareness and safe use of these newer devices. I thank all stakeholders who have contributed to this review.
13. AMAP is currently reviewing the safe and responsible use of personal mobility aids, or PMAs. PMAs help individuals with mobility challenges, including those who have non-visible medical conditions, such as arthritis. However, there have been reports of potential abuse and misuse. We want to ensure that these devices remain accessible to those who need them, At the same time, it is also important to ensure that they are being used safely on our paths, and that they do not detract from encouraging healthier lifestyles, such as walking. AMAP is in the midst of engaging stakeholders and will submit its recommendations later this year.
14. Chairman, allow me to say a few words in Mandarin.
16. Ms Yeo Wan Ling shared some concerns by delivery riders and asked if we could consider allowing different classes of AM devices, such as heavier ones, to be used on roads and paths. We note these concerns and will continue to review our existing regulations. But they have to be balanced with concerns of safety raised by other path and road users and other members of the house. The limits were put in place in consideration of the power of such devices and the potential dangers posed to other users in the event of an accident.
Continuing our Momentum to Implement More Cycling Paths Island-Wide
17. To support greener commutes, we are pressing ahead to implement more cycling paths islandwide. They will be constructed progressively across all towns over the coming years. With the launch of about 30km of cycling paths in various towns across Singapore recently, we now have about 550km of cycling paths in total.
18. Residents living in the East and Northeast regions can expect more comprehensive cycling path networks from 2024. On Ms Ng Ling Ling’s request, we will first prioritise connectivity to transport nodes and key amenities, before expanding to other areas progressively. Nonetheless, the relevant agencies are studying the area and would be happy to work with her. For those living in the West and Central areas, including Nanyang Division which Mr Ang Wei Neng asked about, we will be rolling out plans to build cycling paths there as well. Residents in these areas can look forward to better connectivity within and between these towns when these are progressively implemented.
19. With this, all 27 HDB towns and estates, can look forward to having some cycling paths by the end of next year, up from the current 13. This is an ambitious programme, especially when we have to construct most of the paths in estates which are already very built up and space is scarce. Finding space can be a challenge, and in some cases, we need stakeholders’ support to make way for new cycling paths. For example, LTA recently worked with five different schools in Bukit Panjang, to reconstruct their school boundary walls and fences, to create space for cycling paths. During construction, we also take the opportunity to dovetail with other infrastructural works where possible. So, as much as we are trying to accelerate the programme, we seek members’ and Singaporeans’ patience and understanding.
20. Apart from these intra-town paths, we are also looking into options for cyclists who prefer longer-distance cycling commutes. One such example is the North-South Corridor, designed with a cycling trunk route that would connect AM users directly from the Northern region to the city.
21. Ms Poh Li San and Mr Saktiandi Supaat may wish to know that where space allows, we try to have dedicated cycling paths for AM device users. The CBD is a good place to do so, and SMS Amy Khor had previously mentioned about our plans to rejuvenate Tanjong Pagar. However, given Singapore’s land constraints, it is not possible to always build separate paths for different users. We will all need to be prepared to share our spaces, and to do so graciously and safely.
22. Last year, LTA launched the Sunday Cycling Lane trial, along West Camp Road in Seletar to facilitate larger group road cycling. A 4.6km on-road cycling lane was demarcated and set aside for buses and cyclists only, on Sundays from 5am to 11am. Five months into the trial, we observed that cyclists and motorists have co-existed well by keeping to their respective lanes, and the journey time of buses and other vehicles travelling along West Camp Road have also not been affected. Into the last month of the trial, LTA will conduct surveys with stakeholders and gather feedback, before deciding whether the lane would be permanent or enhanced further. Moving forward, LTA is studying other stretches which are frequented by on-road cyclists, and where vehicular traffic is relatively low. This would also be subject to consultation with other agencies and engagements with relevant stakeholders.
Inculcating an Inclusive Public Transport System
23. Mr Chair, we are also stepping up efforts on inclusivity in public transport. As Mr Ang Wei Neng notes, many Singaporeans are keen for our transport system to be more inclusive. Let me give a few updates.
24. First, I am happy to share that all MRT stations, bus interchanges, and Integrated Transport Hubs have been designated as Dementia Go-To Points. Members of the public can bring people who lose their way to any of these major public transport nodes and enlist the help of our public transport staff.
25. Beginning last year, we have also fitted Braille signs at the queue rails of each boarding berth at bus interchanges. These signs allow commuters with visual impairments to know which bus services are available at the berth.
26. For the elderly and families with young children, we have built accessible changing rooms and family toilets. All these rooms with automatic sliding doors will come with audio announcements which will be useful for visually-impaired commuters to wave a hand to lock the door. These infrastructure upgrades have been included in new bus interchanges since last year, and will be added to existing bus interchanges that are slated for upgrading, where practicable.
27. Sir, we are providing Singaporeans with sheltered connections from our public transport nodes to key amenities nearby. Over 2019 to 2022, we expanded our network of covered linkways by about 72km. Today, we have a total of 275km of covered linkways built by LTA. Typically, a new MRT station brings about 800m of covered linkways. With more than 60 new MRT stations including interchanges coming up in the next decade, our network of covered linkways will only continue to grow. We will continue to work closely with other agencies to enhance the walking experience of Singaporeans.
28. While we make improvements in hardware, we have also continued to foster a caring commuting culture in public transport, primarily through the Caring SG Commuters movement.
29. I am glad to share that more than 900 people have undergone training to assist commuters in need under the Caring Commuter Champion initiative. Another 700 volunteers are undergoing the online training course at their own pace. Anyone can enrol in the online training for free at the Caring Commuters website.
30. Mr Eric Chua may be glad to learn that we will expand the Caring Commuter Champion initiative. This year, we are developing content that is suitable for primary school children, to enlarge our pool of young Caring Commuter Champions. Moving forward, we will actively increase outreach efforts and engage our existing partners to promote inclusivity on public transport, and enhance outreach to private sector organisations to raise awareness and to recruit more Caring Commuter Champions.
31. Our Public Transport Operators (PTOs), who are the frontline touchpoint for commuters, are our close partners. They have worked closely with Social Service Agencies to develop inclusive initiatives. One of the initiatives was the “Helping Hand” scheme.
32. We started with a sticker or card displaying “May I have a seat please?” to help commuters be aware of those who need a seat more, especially those whose medical conditions may not be obvious. This message has been expanded to the entire bus and train network across all PTOs, and commuters who need these stickers or cards may request for them at bus interchanges and MRT stations. We encourage commuters to exercise graciousness and give up their seats – and not just priority seats – to fellow commuters who need them more, and will put up posters at prominent locations as visual reminders.
33. From April 2023 onwards, we will expand the “Helping Hand” scheme by adding more messages to assist the special needs of other commuters. The new messages will be progressively rolled out, starting with the bus network, and publicity will be done on various online and out-of-home platforms.
34. Chair, we have made good progress in our AM landscape over the past few years. We will keep up the momentum to provide more inclusive and sustainable modes of transport. Nonetheless, more can be done to achieve our goal for a gracious and sharing community. No matter your mode of transport – whether you choose active mobility or public transport – let us look out for one another so that everyone can move around Singapore safely and with ease.